No one starts out evil. Something always happens, something
to turn them away, to force them down the path toward the darkness. It is the
same with the heroes. Somewhere, someplace, sometime, there was an event that
threw them into heroism. If not to them, it happens to their parents. If not to
their parents, maybe to their friends. No one is totally and completely evil,
and no one completely and totally good.
But something always happens. It just depends
on how you deal with it.
~ * ~
"Daddy!" the tiny Aisha kitten cried, running to him. Dienal swept her up
into his arms and she giggled as his Skunk fur tickled her cheek.
His life partner, a young brown Moehog, turned and
smiled at him.
"You're home early, 'Nal," she
He grinned at her, an easy, happy
smile that came with joy and bliss. Slitted Aisha eyes were wide with happiness
and sparkled with excitement.
"I've got good news!"
"Should I sit down?" she teased
"We're moving to the capital,
Morguss! Darigan promoted me again!"
She stared at him, then gave a
cry of delight and hurled herself into his arms. "I can't believe it!"
Dienal lifted his daughter above
his head and swung her round in a full circle exultantly. She laughed, a clear,
tinkling laughter, not really understanding why her parents were so happy, but
they were happy, and that was enough for her.
"We're moving, Ileiya! Can you
~ * ~
The potion bubbled over and Morguss swore loudly as it burnt her robes.
Serves you right for daydreaming,
she chided herself mentally.
But it had been such a good memory.
What was it now? Eighteen years later? Such a short time for so much to happen.
She hastily grabbed a nearby pitcher
of water, pouring it on the half-finished potion. Wrinkling her nose up at the
stench which rose from the small cauldron, she peered in, trying to assess the
condition of the pale blue liquid.
No good. It was beyond repair.
Morguss swore again, throwing
the pitcher across the room. There goes one week of my life, she muttered
to herself mentally.
The old Moehog sighed, then pulled
her disheveled robes about her, and busied herself emptying out the cauldron
and setting things back in order.
Then the door creaked open hesitantly.
"Ileiya? What is it?"
The Aisha girl slid into the room.
Ileiya was nineteen years old now. Even in her mutated Darigan form, she was
startlingly beautiful. Her purple scales glistened, and her red eyes were huge
and piercingly beautiful. The simple lavender dress she wore was torn at the
back to permit the spikes on her back to show, and her orange hair cascaded
down her back like a small ginger waterfall.
"Mister Kass wants to see you."
"Alright. I'll be right along.
Have you had your dinner yet?"
"No, I was going to. Are you coming
to eat with me, Mommy?"
"I'll see if I can."
"I'll wait for you then."
She backed out of the room, and
Morguss heard her light feet pattering outside the hall corridor. She sighed
and continued putting her things away. Neatness, that was the rule. A messy
potion-brewer usually got herself destroyed somehow by some freak accident.
That was what Kaliph had always told her.
~ * ~
"Put all your things away, now. Remember, neatness! Junith, that potion on
the floor, clean it up. Mariana, help her. Kian... yes, Morguss? What is it?"
The brown Moehog lowered her hoof. "Can I
go out early today, sir? I've packed all my things."
Old Professor Kaliph smiled.
"Dienal waiting for you?"
Nineteen-year old Morguss
had blushed, and pawed one hind hoof on the floor. "Well... yes, sir."
"Very well, if you have
finished, you may then go."
~ * ~
Morguss shook her head to clear it of the lingering memories, her thick grey
hair flying in any which way. She'd been Professor Kaliph's favorite student.
The only one, in fact, to continue with potion brewing after he had taught she
and her classmates all he could.
Everything was neat now.
She drew up the hood of her faded reddish-brown robes over her hair, then pulled
the curtains shut and surveyed her small laboratory in a satisfied manner.
Then she turned and went
out. Kass would be waiting.
* * *
He looked old. Every time she saw him, she was struck by that fact. No matter
the face he presented to the world, in private, weary lines creased his furred
and feathered face, and he looked suddenly years older than he was.
They'd been friends in
childhood, all three of them, Kass always tagging along behind she and Dienal,
hero-worshiping them almost. As he'd grown up, so had they, and they'd slowly
grown apart until Dienal had... no, she wouldn't think about that. She wouldn't.
Morguss pushed the thoughts from her mind firmly. She wouldn't.
"You called, Kass?"
"Yes, I did."
Silence hung in the air.
"What do you want now?"
Kass sighed. "Galgaroth
is being awfully stubborn."
"I don't know. I don't
really want to kill him, Morguss. He's a bit too clever to be wasted just like
Her eyes bore into him.
"There's more than that, isn't there? Nostalgia, Kass? That didn't seem to bother
you much with Vex."
He sighed again. "I liked
Galgaroth better than Vex, Morguss. He was someone whom I used to look up to,
after all... and so were you."
"You don't look up to him
anymore, do you?"
"No, but... still..."
"Never mind, Morguss. Never
They were silent for a
while. Then Kass spoke, softly as if trying to hide from the shame.
"The Three are displeased
"They aren't happy with
the way things are going. Said I wasn't good enough. What more can I do?" he
Morguss looked troubled.
"I don't know," she acknowledged. "I'll think about it tonight."
He nodded. "Thanks."
She did not reply, just
got up and left, her hood shadowing her face. Kass buried his face in his paws.
"What more can I do?"
* * *
Ileiya was waiting for her in the small dining room that adjoined their separate
quarters. "Mother!" she chirped.
Morguss smiled wearily,
seating herself. Despite everything, her daughter was somehow still so very
sunny, so happy. Perhaps it was because she couldn't remember what had happened
before. Morguss had never told her.
"We'll need to continue
your studies today."
The girl made a pout. "But..."
"You don't want to be stupid,
"Well, no.... but..."
"There you go."
Ileiya sighed and began
They were silent for a
long while. Morguss found her eyes drifting back to her child's face. Although
Ileiya was now Darigan, she still looked like her father... so much like her
father. Before the Orb had been stolen and her soft chocolate fur and luminous
green eyes had changed. Before the thieves had come. While her father was still
~ * ~
Dienal had bid her goodbye that morning. But Morguss pleaded with him not
"I don't know, 'Nal. I
just... I've got a bad feeling about today. Don't go, 'Nal. Please!"
He kissed her on the cheek.
"Don't worry, honey. Nothing's going to happen. We're a peaceful land, remember?"
She nodded reluctantly
as he had said his goodbyes to Ileiya, then three years old. She had smiled
innocently up at him, busily playing with one of her toys.
Then he had left. And she'd
never seen him alive again.
* * *
Dienal had arrived at the cheerful, airy castle quite early that morning.
He was high in the ranks of the government, one of Darigan's top administrators.
It had all gone well that
day. He'd forgotten about what Morguss had told him. After all, she'd had these
'feelings' before. Something bad usually happened, but not always.
"Lord Darigan wants to
speak with you," one of his aides told him. He nodded and smiled at the young
Blumaroo. "Guess I'd better go now."
He met his Lord in the
small garden outside. The light of the Orb shone, illuminating the vibrant green
grass and the other pets around it. In the days long ago, Darigan had been a
handsome Korbat, his skin creamy white, the ends of his muzzle constantly twisted
up in a smile and his robes intertwined with golden thread at the hem.
"My Lord," Dienal greeted
"No need to stand on ceremony,
old friend," Darigan told him, smiling slightly. "This year's produce has been
unusually good, I see. What have you been doing?"
Dienal laughed. "Nothing
"You understate yourself.
Reports from the farmers tell me that you introduced this new pipe sort of thing
into their fields to supply water."
"Well, it was only logical,
my Lord. After all--"
Darigan cut him off with
a good-natured wave of a clawed paw. "I think you deserve a promotion, Dienal.
It's been too long since you've had one anyway." He clapped his paw down on
the skunk Aisha's shoulder. "Give me a day or so to think about what you should
"But my Lord, I don't deserve
this," Dienal objected.
"Nonsense. You're one of
the best people in my kingdom. Hasn't anyone ever told you that?"
Dienal was grinning broadly
as he walked back up the path and into the building. To think! A promotion!
And all for that little idea he'd expanded. Perhaps...
Then a cry echoed through
the hallways. Dienal was outside in an instant.
Darigan was frantic, running
towards him. Then he noticed the intruders.
It appeared that they were
mounted on Unis, something strange to him. They also wore metal on their bodies.
And in the hand of one of them was the Orb. The Orb that guarded, protected
Darigan Citadel. And the crumpled bodies of some of the people who had tried
to fight littering the path both before them when they had gone in, and behind
them as they were trying to get out.
Dienal found himself running forward, placing himself in their path, just before
the gate that led outside. He snatched a sword from one of the fallen, but his
heart quailed. He was untrained in battle, had never held a weapon before. But
others were coming and if only he could hold them off long enough...
To be continued...
Author's note: Dienal pronounced 'Day-narl'. Feel free to Neomail! Me likes